When Do Ferries Start Running To Mackinac Island

As an avid fan of the great outdoors and sports enthusiast, I’ve always been fascinated by the charm and allure of Mackinac Island. The picturesque island in Lake Huron, Michigan, is famous for its stunning landscapes, historic sites, and vibrant culture. One of the best ways to reach Mackinac Island is by taking a ferry ride. But when do these ferries actually start running? Let’s dive into the details!

Planning a Trip to Mackinac Island

If you’re like me, planning a trip to Mackinac Island involves careful consideration of transportation options. While the island does have a small airstrip and a heliport, the most popular way to get there is by ferry. This mode of transportation not only offers breathtaking views of the surrounding waters but also adds to the overall adventure of visiting the island.

Spring Schedule

For those eager to visit Mackinac Island, it’s important to note that the ferry schedule is highly dependent on the weather. Typically, the ferry service to the island begins in early spring, around mid-April. Several ferry companies, such as Shepler’s and Star Line, operate services from both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. It’s advisable to check the specific ferry company’s schedule and book tickets in advance to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey.

Peak Season

As the weather warms up and the summer season kicks in, the ferry schedule to Mackinac Island becomes more frequent and robust. From late May through early September, visitors can expect multiple ferry departures throughout the day, offering flexibility for planning their island adventure. Whether you prefer an early morning departure or a leisurely afternoon ride, there are ample options to choose from.

Autumn and Beyond

Even as the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to change color, ferries continue to operate into the fall season, usually until late October. The autumn months bring a different kind of magic to Mackinac Island, and the ferry ride offers a unique perspective of the island’s natural beauty during this time of year. It’s worth noting that as the season winds down, the frequency of ferry departures may decrease, so it’s advisable to plan accordingly.


When do ferries start running to Mackinac Island? The answer is as varied as the island’s beauty throughout the seasons. From the early spring anticipation to the vibrant summer rush and the enchanting autumn tranquility, the ferry schedule aligns with the ebb and flow of nature. Regardless of when you choose to visit, the journey to Mackinac Island by ferry is an integral part of the experience, offering a prelude to the unforgettable adventure that awaits on this captivating island.